Photo Credit: Peathegee Inc.
Here’s What Black Expats Wish They Knew Before Relocating To The Caribbean
It goes without saying that there is so much to learn about moving abroad, but packing up and relocating to the Caribbean? That is a whole other ball game. The Caribbean has a huge appeal to the Black community for many reasons. The familiarity, the warmth (people and climate), the food, the endless paradisiacal views, the ease of finding like-minded community – we could go on.
But what are the things you need to know before relocating to the sandy white beaches and colorful islands? We spoke with four Black expats who made the transition of relocating to the Caribbean to see what they wish they’d known beforehand:
- “Visiting somewhere as a tourist versus living there are two totally different experiences. I think people that experience Jamaica/the Caribbean through tourism have a skewed sense that the island is there to cater to them and needs them to survive. However, when venturing to different parts of the island, you have a boisterous atmosphere and thriving economy. This is, of course, depending on location and not to diminish the poverty that exists, but just like most places that have been affected by colonialism, that is the experience of most Black-occupied places and countries.”
- “Due to our sorted history, Black people throughout the diaspora just have different lived realities. Sometimes I have encounters with people who cannot fathom why I would want to leave the U.S. and live in Jamaica, but instead of assuming they would understand, I have to acknowledge how the U.S. is marketed to the outside world, and that their lived experience is totally different from mine. Race relations may not be as important to someone who does not exist in whiteness on a daily basis, especially if they are more concerned with day-to-day survival and livelihood.”
- “It is so important for the Caribbean to be acknowledged for its part in liberation for the Black diaspora! There’s so much history in Jamaica that oftentimes gets overshadowed through tourism, ganja, and colonial remnants. Get engulfed in the culture and history of Jamaica to really understand all the different aspects of the island!”
Carron is an expat who left the U.S. for the island of Puerto Rico and hasn’t looked back. He documents his life and explorations on YouTube for all to get a real look at expat life in Puerto Rico. Here is what Carron wishes he knew before relocating to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico:
- Manners Go A Long Way. “Buenos dias, buenas tardes, buenas noches are the best ways to start a conversion with someone you don’t know. Take a minute and acknowledge them as a person before asking for something or paying. It goes a very long way in Puerto Rico.”
- Accept and Embrace. “You never know what you’re going to get. In Puerto Rico, you’re living on Island time and Island vibes. Time is flexible, the power goes out, things are bureaucratic, etc. You can’t expect everything to always go rosy or to work how things do at home. You came somewhere new for a new lifestyle and culture. Embrace it. And get out the city! (West coast, best coast.)”
- There Is Opportunity Everywhere. “With economically developing countries/territories comes a lot of opportunity if you are business savvy or entrepreneurial. If you can envision it, you can make it happen here. Tax benefits for investments and crypto are a nice cherry on top, as well. And an added plus? The Blaxpat community here is strong.”
Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast
Meet Elshadai Zenaye, an expat living on Costa Rica’s lush Caribbean coast in Puerto Viejo. Being in sync with the healing energies and the vastness of Costa Rican wildlife, Elshadai Zenaye has relocated to this part of the Caribbean and has this to say about it:
- “Before moving to Puerto Viejo, I thought my decision to come had to make sense, logically. I spent so much energy planning and trying to figure out logistics. I thought ‘the jump’ was a means to the end, being here. But honestly, of all the blessings that came with living in paradise, the best gift has been the jump itself, the deepened trust I have now with my intuition. Before, when an opportunity presented itself, doubt and fear came up shortly after. Now, I notice myself constantly thinking back to this intuitive move, being motivated by how well it turned out, and moving more gracefully in my walk. The beach lifestyle is amazing, but that self trust is unmatched.”
- “Another realization that came after moving was that there is no need to explain my decision, or any decision, to anyone who is fearful. Following my intuition and speaking life into my moves has become the power to manifest anything I want, so fear just isn’t helpful. There is no need to know beyond the present moment and, Puerto Viejo is activated land, so if it calls you in, the rest will be taken care of.”
Find more of Elshadai Zenaye’s work on The Intuition School.
Indira is an expat/repat who moved from the U.K. all the way to back to St. Lucia. Being deeply involved in developing and restoring the island’s Kwéyòl culture with her sister, she has much to share about her lessons when relocating to this much-loved Caribbean island.
- “Before moving to the Caribbean, I had mapped out my finances for the first couple of months of the move (shoutout Monzo Pots). I thought it best to give myself the mental stability of a safety net. However, the reality of food prices here is something that I was utterly unprepared for. Shopping at the supermarkets are a surefire way to wipe out your precisely planned finances, especially on a specific vegan diet. Almond milk costs how much?!”
- “A lot of us have a trialing relationship with TFL (Transport For London), but I promise you that the next time I’m on London soil I will not bat an eyelid when the bus is three minutes late. In Saint Lucia, there is absolutely no assurance about when the next transit bus will whiz past. There are no bus stop guides/timers/apps – it’s all vibes. Could you be sat there waiting for two minutes? Yes. Could it be two hours? Absolutely.”
- “My top tips: Do some research on prices and leave your house with ample time if public transport is your mode of travel!”